By: Monika Sidhu –
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced $4 million in funding towards organizations aimed at helping seniors during his daily COVID-19 address Friday.
“This funding will allow grassroots organizations to develop programs for seniors that focus on combating social isolation, promoting senior safety and well-being, improving financial security, and making communities age-friendly,” said Ford.
Ford began his address acknowledging that Thursday saw 30,000 processed COVID tests with only 111 showing positive. The premier said while the results were good, seniors in different communities have struggled throughout the pandemic.
Following the announcement, many questions continued to focus on seniors and long-term care (LTC) homes. The premier was asked why there was extra time granted for the Canadian Military to be in LTC homes. Ford responded saying the military would remain until the facilities enter the ‘green zone,’ which signifies the lowest likely chance of contracting COVID-19.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot was asked about the short-staffing situation at LTC facilities since the beginning of the pandemic. The minister stated that many of the staff who left during the pandemic’s worst outbreak are now coming back.
“Now that the homes are stabilized, that they’re following proper infection prevention and control procedures, that they have the necessary PPE in order to do their work, we’re finding that many of those staff members are coming back,” said Elliot.
Elliot also said they are trying to train more people to alleviate short-staffing.
Ford was also asked about a Toronto Sun article that mentioned his government’s decision to reject funding for LTC twice. Ford responded stating that the accusations were inaccurate.
“They didn’t do their homework. It’s just the furthest thing—riddled with mistakes —furthest thing from the truth.” He added that the Ford government would be pouring in everything they have in their budget, including an investment of $1.75 billion.
Nail salon outbreak
The premier was also asked about the recent COVID-19 outbreak in a Kingston nail salon that had nearly 500 people visit.
“What it shows is the system’s working,” said Ford. “The system’s working, because [of] how quickly we contacted and traced the 500 people.”
He said it comes down to people needing to wear face masks, wash their hands and stick to their social circles.
The premier said that enforcing the use of masks is a decision for local chief medical officers and that it’s not for him to mandate.
Tackling systemic racism
Ford was also asked about systemic racism in Canada, specifically regarding the coming verdict of the Dafonte Miller case, where the young Black man was attacked with a metal pipe by an off-duty officer and his brother in 2016.
Ford said they would have to wait on the verdict as it hadn’t yet been released, but acknowledged that “there is so much pain in the communities right now.”
The premier said a lot needs to be done to tackle systemic racism and it will be done with the help of the Black community and other marginalized groups, as well as with help from the police, he said.